what we learned no longer applies

I live in a place renowned as a seat of learning

people come to teach and be taught,

research and discover, become learned themselves

they ask themselves, “what do I know?”

“who am I to know anything?”

realising one knows

very little of consequence

is perhaps

the beginning of wisdom

the tendency to know, to understand,

distracts us from just being

today on a walk

I was admiring some sandy coloured cows

docile and accepting of all aspects of being a cow

its tempting for me to imagine the mind of a cow

such arrogance

cows are too busy being cows

to have time for such nonsense

we are born into worlds

our parents barely know

we grow up learning about

what they’re learning about

a world that is rapidly disappearing

by the time we learn any rules,

tricks or techniques there may be

they no longer apply

and so it goes….

a life of prayer

country rhythm

I have Fr Richard Rohr OFM to thank for what is currently my most effective prayer. He suggested it as an exercise in one of his daily emails a few weeks back. I’m too slow to embrace all his suggestions, but this one I very much took to heart.

There are no words to this prayer. It goes like this….

breathing in
God fills me to the brim with His love
breathing out
I give all my love back to Him

could it be
we are all praying all the time
but mostly we are not
paying attention?

forgive me, Lord,
for imagining anything else
could be more interesting

ca commence

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So yesterday I crossed the channel and drove to Brussels. This begins a series of adventures that will keep me away from the island home for two months. Thats a glimpse of them white cliffs receding as the car ferry I’m on pulls away toward France.

I arrived in Dover at 10.20 for a noon crossing and was squeezed in at the last minute between some big old trucks on a boat leaving at 10.40. Last on, last off, I drove off the boat two and a bit hours later and was in Belgium within an hour. I took a much needed nap at a rest stop, and was with my friends in Brussels around 6.

I was here a year ago, and since then, the parking controls have spread their net wider, and tightened their grip. Last visit, I could always find a free parking street within 5-10 minutes walk. Not any more…

This morning I got up and went looking…in my car. I set off about 9. First I drove around in ever increasing circles to find every street now with parking signs. After a good half hour of this, I figured I’d just pay for an hour or two and get some breakfast. I miss parking meters! Insert a coin, and off you go…mechanical.

This morning as I approached the nearest digital parking box I encountered a parking inspector, a helpful young man, who recommended getting an app on my phone which would save me money and make it all much easier. No ticket required, all information beamed up to the great parking hard disc in the sky, for the authorities to peruse at their leisure.

I duly downloaded an app to my phone, and surrendered my name, address, phone number, bank card details and such. Could I make the app work? Not this old fool. I tried inserting a 2 euro coin, which slid straight through and out again….twice. There was a choice of several apps, so I downloaded another. I had no more luck with this one. There was a further method of payment involving a text message. I gave that a try, but to no avail.

At this point I realised the spirit of nothing-is-ever-going-to-work-again was wagging its tail. I left the spot I had failed so miserably at and drove back to the street in which I was staying. If I’m going to pay, I might as well be close to home I reasoned. The closest payment box, half way down the block round the corner, gratefully accepted my 2 euros. I was free for an hour and a half!

Returning to the building I am staying in, I was unable to make the key work. Governed now by craving for coffee, I walked up the hill to a cafe and enjoyed the best cup I’d had for a very long time!  Thus fortified, I went back and made the key work. After another couple of hours priming the meter and trawling the internet, I put the car in a multi-storey car park and had a lovely walk back through the back streets of Molenbeek. Here in a poorer section of town, it’s easier to catch glimpses of  the old city and how it may have been. Lots of people on foot, standing around chatting outside, less cars, quieter….I can imagine they live in cramped quarters and need to get out just to be themselves a little. In the more prosperous parts of town, people scurry about, heads down, back to their private palaces.

My plan now is to go visit a friend outside Brussels, and on his advice, leave my car for a week in the railway station car park.

who’s counting?

In the beginning there was nothing, save the silent, inactive spirit…nothing…no time no space….all was not yet…everything had yet to begin…so in a way, everything had already ended….eternity….immeasurable…no beginning or end….no dimensions whatsoever….

our learned scientists and archaeologists have determined all kinds of time frames for when this or that began….species, climatic conditions etc…assuming for the moment that it all ‘began’ at some point in time, there then ensued a long, long time before some bright spark started counting, and the tyranny of numbers began its long history…until that fateful moment, after which moments began to be strung together, there was just the one, ever shifting moment…a small step from eternity…

I am now sitting in a pub in London…WC1…people are counting money, to pay for their 2nd or 3rd drink…its 17.28….many doubtless finished their days labours at 17.00 hours or thereabouts…they have phone numbers, house or apartment numbers, bank account numbers, bank balances, ages….they have numbers of friends, lovers, children, cousins…. we are constantly looking at the prices of things and buying them or not, an endless, tragic numbers game…weather reports list temperatures, wind speeds, likelihood of rain in percentages, and so on…doctors chart blood pressure, temperature, cholesterol levels, and months left to live!….most sports are judged numerically, as are films and music releases…if it cannot be reduced to a numerical evaluation, it may slip notice altogether…comparison is bad enough on the better/worse, richer/poorer level…once numbers move in, we’re all losers….

there is a world, or a mode of perception, that continues uncounted, mostly unnoticed, wherein everything is still in the now, fully connected and at peace….it is accessible to us all…it resides in the deepest part of each of us….I venture to say it is where God lives…

 

what to believe

Nothing changed on Calvary, but everything was revealed as God’s suffering love—so that we could change!
Richard Rohr

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love hurts….I’ve had a hard time accepting that, which has made me a little hard hearted…its too easy to close down when I’ve been hurt….I try to let it all go and remain open and accepting of everything,  but eventually some often minor increase in tragedy level is enough to pull the plug on my manufactured calm…

of course!…I still forget that none of this can I do on my own…I need to be connected, open hearted, in tune with what is unfolding…a placid participant playing his part as directed…only then am I beginning to walk in love…and as soon as I try and hang on to anything, its gone..

it feels dangerous…till I let the feeling go…just be…part of it all…an integral part…not in control, just receiving and responding….from one moment to the next you may be mortally wounded, or ecstatically touched…or anything in between…agony and ecstasy…

I am blessed with four children…my love for each of them seems immeasurable in every sense…part of that love is a deep longing to love them more…to ease their pain, strengthen their resolve, alert them to dangers, save them time…..but for their sakes I have to back off…watch them fall, get hurt, again and again…each of us has to live our own life….

our heavenly Father loves the whole of creation…he cannot but love every last detail…love is the very nuts and bolts of it all…in you as you are in me…God’s boundless, suffering love

“I will bless the Lord at all times,
his praise ever on my lips.” Psalm 34:1

longing

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I’m longing for you
forever longing for you
I’m longing for the one
who’s longing for me

pretty young blonde woman with a dark haired young child in a pushchair…
every 10 seconds or so she bends down, tickles him and giggles…
he is dying of joy!…

beautiful young swan,
dirty grey colour,
yearning to be white?..
how much does a swan yearn?

guy on a bike
with a big wooden box on the front
like a wheelbarrow
with 2 kids in it
wearing helmets
and singing at the top of their lungs…

in everyone is a deep longing..
a wild mix of exquisite pain and exquisite joy
beyond our control…
perhaps that longing is what we truly are,
and also what we all have in common